So you want to shoot an Airsoft video? (Part 1/3 – Equipment)

Lately people have been asking me what I use for my airsoft videos. Especially since the release of the Team VOA Blacksheep Video and the DDAY video, people wonder what my rig is and how easy it is to get into shooting better quality airsoft videos.

Let me answer the latter question first.

How easy is it to get into shooting an airsoft video?

It’s as easy as going out and getting a camera. The layers of easiness get thicker from there.

1. Do I want that cinematic, high impact, high depth of field (DOF) looking film? Or do I want to film the action as it occurs and I don’t really mind the cinematic nature of the film. 

- If you want that DOF look (if you don’t know what that means, it’s when something is in focus, and everything else is out of focus), I highly recommend a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera). These cameras are the digital versions of their old film counterparts.

- If depth of field is not your thing, I recommend just buying a regular camcorder from the local best buy or amazon.

NOTE: And this note is for camera / video geeks, if you use a DSLR and you have a lot of action, there maybe some screen tearing or rolling shutter effect (also known as film jello). This is due image not capturing all at the same time on the DSLR sensor. You can read more about it here.

2. What’s my budget? 

An easy one to tackle, but a hard one to adhere to. Find a camera that suites your needs, and in your budget. I’ll go over what I use, and possible alternatives later.

3. Will I have software to edit it?

If you don’t have software to edit your footage, then get some, even iMovie works.
The worst thing you can do is get a whole bunch of footage of a game, and just post it.
Half the footage is boring, and the other half people won’t wade through the boring stuff to watch it. It is imperative to edit your footage down to 3-5 minutes of video that people can stomach.

4. Will I use this often enough to warrant spending the money?

If you have a the passion to do video, the motivation to get shot by other players by accident, and the willingness to drive out to games to shoot video and not play. Then by all means, get started. But if you think you might want to do it, but not sure if you have the time, borrow the equipment first and see if you like it. There’s no use in buying equipment you don’t use. And if you like to do that, I take donations ;)

5. Composition and Lighting

Lighting
Video takes an enormous amount of light to get a good shot. Think about this when going to your next event. If it’s indoors, you might want to bring an extra light (or have a darn good lens on your camera).

Composition
This really comes with practice but if you follow the rule of thirds you’ll make film magic in no time!

6. Constantly shoot

You can’t buy the equipment, shoot one video, and wait a few months to shoot the next. Keep finding different material to shoot, even if it’s not airsoft.  Anything helps, even animals, they are unpredictable and fast… really helps with focusing practice.

My Rig

As I said in the last tutorial, I’m on a budget when it comes to equipment, but my budget isn’t horribly low… but it’s not very high either. You’ll find that once you get into video / photography, things start adding up and in no time you’ll be wanting to spend big bucks on that next gadget that will help you out. NOTE: If you’re not looking to spend $1000 on equipment, scroll to the bottom, I realized that the stuff I had put up is pretty expensive if you’re just getting into video, so I made a smaller rig below.

Start with the basics:

1. The Camera.

I use the Canon t2i. This is a GREAT entry level camera, under $600 and has one of the best video sensors out there for its price point. You can also load different color style settings to it, but I can go over that later if people are interested.

The Damage: $599

If you have the extra cash, spring for the t4i or the t3i, they have a few more options than the t2i. 

2. The Lens.

Here’s somewhere that you don’t want to skimp on. The lens is where all that action you are capturing and you want the best picture you can get. I run the Canon 50mm F1.4. 50mm gives me pretty good medium range between a wide angle (12mm) and a telephoto range (100mm). The F stop of 1.4 gives me lots of room and lights of light.

The Damage: $369

If you don’t want to spend that ammount of money, you could always go with the F1.8 which is $98. A good lens, but the build quality is less than the F1.4, trust me the F1.4 is worth it.

3. The Rig

Now I set up my rig so that I could

  • quickly move
  • quickly focus
  • have enough light for the environment (in or out)
  • capture good sound quality
  • be protected from the sun
  • be protected from BBs flying at me

All this for… under $450

Breakdown:

  1. Lexan Sheet for protection against the BBs- Local Hardware Store: $5
  2. Opteka Camera Cage to hold all the accessories on – Amazon: $119
  3. Opteka Follow Focus to ease in focusing quickly – Amazon: $125
  4. ePhoto Mattbox reduce sun glare and lens flare – Amazon: $35
  5. LED High Power Light Rig for inside when you need extra light – Amazon: $35
  6. Olympus Mini Shotgun Mic for capturing better directional audio – Amazon: $109

Keep in mind, I didn’t acuire all of this at once. The first thing I would get is the Camera Cage and the Mattbox so you can mount the Lexan on the front of the camera and have piece of mind. After that you can opt for the lighting or the follow focus. You can even use jar openers as a quasi-follow focus: $5

Here’s a video I shot tonight with the same exact rig.

 

Low Budget Action Setup:

So I’m guessing you’re thinking… Yikes, that’s over $1,000 for just the camera!
So I’ll set out a smaller less intense setup that can be used as a video camera & as a helmet cam!

1. Drift Innovations Drift HD - $299

This can attach to a camera rig and used as a helmet cam. The coolest thing about the Drift HD is that it has a remote you can attach to your wrist or rig, that and a small LCD to see what you’re actually filming. This camera also has a wide angle lens to capture lots of action and films in 1080p HD at many different frame rates.

2. Opteka X-Grip – $29

Used to stabilize your footage and you can attach lighting accessories, mics, and other things onto it. I find using something like this beats carrying your camera any day.

Just remember when purchasing cameras, camera equipment, and accessories.
You get what you pay for, so don’t buy something cheap and expect pro results.  

As always, if you have any questions, comment! :)

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